April 13, 2012
On April 11, there was virtual round-table discussion held about utilizing strengths on campus. This program was facilitated by Rick Miller from Texas A&M University–Commerce and Chris Jachimowicz from Muhlenberg College. Here is a recap and a few highlights of this program.
Those participating in the call who had been working with strengths on campus shared how it has affected the culture to allow leaders to focus on the growth and development of others, rather than focusing primarily on achieving a goal. It has proven to be an investment in student development, as it can help students understand and work towards getting what they want out of their futures, allows staff to become champions of student success, and ultimately supports retention efforts.
Overall, one key to being successful with utilizing strengths seemed to be having regular, intentional conversations with students and staff about them. This can occur through one-on-one mentoring discussions, through performance evaluation processes, or through formal training or orientation programs.
Some examples of successful initiatives included:
- Using strengths at the beginning of a comprehensive student training program, and weaving them into the training activities throughout
- Starting staff meetings with a discussion about how people are using their strengths
- Posting publicly a leader board, which highlights the strengths of a team of people in a grid format, and reference it before meetings with others or when needing a particular type of assistance
- Appraising staff performance by discussing how strengths can be used to help improve in particular areas, rather than how to fix weaknesses
Additional information was discussed about how to bring strengths into the conversation on campus and to get more people on board with the tool. One way is to see if others on campus are already using it and align with them. Also, existing groups of student staff are a great place to get started with implementing a strengths-based program. Finally, if you are hoping to be a champion of strengths, start by just giving people codes to take the assessment; rather than mandating it, they will get the chance to see its value and start formulating their own ideas about how it could be used in their unit.
Let’s continue this discussion!
- How have you seen strengths utilized on your campus? Are particular areas of campus leading the way?
- What successes have you had integrating strengths conversations in your union or activities office? With staff? With students?
- What is your plan for implementing strengths-based initiatives?
is the Online Engagement Manager at ACUI.
As a member of the education department, Justin is responsible for content delivery and member engagement through new technologies, working with all of ACUI’s online learning programs, communities of practice, and other online and social media projects.